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Modernity, capitalism and domination in two semi-peripheral contexts: investigating patrimonialism and personalism in Brazil and South Korea

Grant number: 16/17446-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2017
Effective date (End): July 31, 2017
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology
Cooperation agreement: Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES)
Principal Investigator:Sedi Hirano
Grantee:Ricardo Pagliuso Regatieri
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


This research project aims at discussing, from a comparative sociological perspective, the topics of personalism and patrimonialism in regards to Brazil and South Korea. According to a significant part of interpretation in the field of Social Sciences, modernity in both countries constitutes itself under the weight of patrimonialism and personalism, albeit due to different historical reasons in each case. In Brazil, personalism and patrimonialism are supposed to stem from the Iberian legacy brought by Portuguese colonization, whereas, in South Korea, their origin is attributed to the background of Confucian ethics. In its specific Brazilian and South Korean configurations, modernity is described as being both incomplete and blocked by obstacles. In these two societies, one would find personal preference and favoritism rather than impersonality, direct and traditional forms of domination rather than mediations by a modern bureaucracy, and the blurring of public and private spheres rather than their sharp separation. In line with Weber's formulations about patrimonialism, such discussions on Brazil and South Korea, on the one hand, are ultimately hostages of euro-centered representations about the "rest" of the world and, on the other hand, they inflate a concept that has a prominently historical core. The project suggests that these discussions operate on the basis of orientalist premises, that such approaches obscure rather than explain the distinct configurations of capitalism and their specific forms of social domination in Brazil and South Korea, and that it is therefore paramount to proceed to critique them as well as to point to alternatives. (AU)